Guide index - HR employment law and your business

Working parents

Maternity leave

All pregnant employees and mothers of babies, regardless of length of service or the hours they work, are entitled to paid time off for ante-natal care and 52 weeks’ maternity leave — made up of 26 weeks’ Ordinary Maternity Leave and 26 weeks’ Additional Maternity Leave. A woman on Ordinary Maternity Leave retains all her normal terms and conditions except wages and salary and a right to return to the same job. After Additional Maternity Leave, an employee is entitled to return to the same job unless this is not reasonably practicable.

Paternity leave

Fathers who have 26 weeks’ service by the 15th week before the expected week of childbirth are entitled to two weeks’ paid paternity leave at or around the date the child is born.

Adoption leave

Where a child is adopted, one member of a couple is entitled to receive Statutory Adoption Leave and the other Statutory Paternity Leave if they have 26 weeks’ service by the time the adopter is told they have been matched with a child for adoption. Qualifying employees are entitled to 39 weeks of Statutory Adoption Pay and two weeks of Statutory Paternity Pay.

Shared parental leave

Qualifying new parents (including adopters) have the opportunity to share the balance of the mother’s 52 weeks of statutory leave and 39 weeks of statutory pay as shared parental leave and shared parental pay, after the mother opts to end her maternity leave and pay early.

Shared parental leave can be taken at any time in the first year following the child’s birth or placement for adoption.

The pattern of leave must be agreed between the employer and employee, with eight weeks’ notice required.

Shared parental leave can be taken in one go, or in up to three separate blocks of leave. If their employer agrees, the employee can split a block of leave into shorter periods of at least a week.

Statutory Shared Parental Pay (SSPP) is paid at the statutory rate or 90% of an employee’s average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.

Unpaid parental leave

Employees who have completed one year’s service are also entitled to up to 18 weeks’ unpaid Parental Leave for each child born or adopted. They can take leave until the child’s 18th birthday.